The last thing Incline residents Jay Neely and Aaron Kaloustian expected Friday morning as they test drove a 40-foot, twin-engine cigarette boat after making repairs was that they'd be swimming for their lives in Lake Tahoe's frigid, 46-degree water.
The boat flipped as the men made a turn, throwing them into the lake.
"It was a wild ride," Kaloustian said. "I was thrown a good 20 to 25 feet from the boat. It just happened so fast."
Neely said he remembered to tuck in his arms as he was hurled through the air.
"I rolled, hit and slid," he said. "Then we swam back to the sinking boat."
Lt. Cmdr. Gregg Lubbe said he and Sgt. Charlotte Garber responded to the call. It took them about nine minutes to get to the men in the patrol boat. Lubbe said the men were unable to hold onto the boat's bow for much longer.
"They had about five minutes left," he said.
Chilled to the bone, the men realized they had been very lucky.
"It seemed like a long time before rescuers arrived," Neely said.
Kaloustian said they were yelling and screaming the whole time, hoping someone would hear them.
"Someone on the beach heard us and said "Help's on the way."
Kaloustian estimated they must have been in the water for 15 to 20 minutes.
"It got cold pretty quick," he said. "We were thinking, 'What are we going to do?'"
"I couldn't control the shaking," Neely said.
Lubbe estimated the boat sunk to a depth of 86 feet near Burnt Cedar Beach.
"It was a very freak accident," Kaloustian said. "Boats aren't supposed to do that. I'd like to know how and why it happened."
Neely, who owns a North Shore boat repair business, and Kaloustian had been taking the recently-repaired boat for a test drive.
Both men said they were grateful to whoever called 911 and they also were grateful to the person on the beach who heard them.
Jeff Jallo at H2O Tow planned to dive on Saturday to rescue the boat and tools.